Study from God’s Word… Nehemiah, Chapters 1 – 3 … Passage for Reflection: Nehemiah 2: 1-2 … NIV 1 In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before; 2 so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart."
My Journal for Today: This is a most interesting interaction between King Artaxerxes and Nehemiah, the Hebrew who was the King’s cupbearer and the man who would soon go to Jerusalem from the Persian palace in Susa to lead the effort to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. It’s obvious that the king and his cupbearer had a close relationship, because Artaxerxes picked up quickly on Nehemiah’s acute depression by noticing his confidant’s body language.
You know, … it is said that body language makes up over 90% of communication (see Borg, John. Body Language: Easy Lessons to Master the Silent Language. Prentice Hall, 2008). That’s why communicating by email or reading blogs often masks the inner feelings and emotional burdens being carried by the communicator. Right now, it’s unlikely that most of you are discerning enough to pick up on my “mood.” Most wouldn’t have a clue that I’m still reeling from having a colonoscopy yesterday. But last night my wife looked into my eyes some six hours after the procedure, and she picked up on some body language clue, … enough so to come over and feel my arm, … and the body contact told her that I had a low-grade fever; … and I did. My wife knows me. She knows when I’m up and when I’m down. She knows when I’m in balance and when I’m out of balance.
And, … though we’re not talking about a marital relationship between Artaxerxes and Nehemiah, the body language being communicated by Nehemiah after he had learned of the city of Jerusalem being unprotected and without walls, told Artaxerxes that the king should attend to the needs of his abiding friend, Nehemiah. And as we read in the “rest of the story,” the king did so.
In his devotional for today, Dr. LaGard Smith, the author, uses a cartoon character to illustrate that body language and the perception of same, is a powerful way to relate to a friend, a spouse, or a close associate. He brings up the image of Casper, the friendly ghost, which perhaps some of you readers of my age can remember. Smith points out that the cartoonist was able to show when Casper was happy by his facial expression and bouncy demeanor. And when Casper was down, his expression and his droopy shoulders revealed he was in a funk. All good cartoonists can relate the mood of their characters by depicting their body language; and we’re no different.
My wife last night was able to minister to my needs – physical and emotional – by noting that my eyes weren’t right. And we could probably do a better job of relating to our loved ones by being more discerning as to their body language. I also think that many times when we notice that others in our life experiencing a “downer,” by picking up cues from their body language, we miss the opportunity to engage them about our perceptions and become ministry helpers in their lives. And there’s no better way to witness to a lost friend or associate when we note and recognize that we, in our relationship with that person, perceive them to be “not right” in some way. Most of the time, people don’t like to SAY how they’re feeling; but when a friend or colleague recognizes they are down and acknowledges same, they will open up; and often this can trigger an opportunity to share honestly – via words – how we might help that person. And who knows, how that kind of relational bridge might lead to the opportunity, at some time in the future, to share how Christ has helped lift us up and change our lives.
So, what I’ve gleaned from this lesson today is to be more aware in picking up on the body cues of those around me and responding with genuine Christian love when I discern that this someone is hurting outwardly or inwardly.
My Prayer for Today: Lord, give me heightened discernment to see the body cues of those around me and the courage to ask if I can be a vessel of Your Spirit for this dear one. Amen